|Thomas Nisbet with eight members of his|
Boys' Brigade company
|Thomas Nisbet with his|
wife, prominent Sarnian
Charlotte Vidal Nisbet.
Shortly after Smith established the organization, Bank of Commerce manager Thomas W. Nisbet brought the program to Sarnia with the first company of the Boys' Brigade in Ontario. He quickly took on an ambitious project to build a hall. Organized recreation was not very prevalent at the end of the nineteenth century, and Nisbet worked hard against negative public opinion to fund the building's construction (which had an estimated price tag of more than $10,000!) When he secured the support of a wealthy backer, Nisbet was able to hire H.G. Philips of Sarnia to oversee the design and construction. By June 3, 1894 a dedication service was taking place to acknowledge the opening of the new building. The Sarnia Observer published an extensive article on Nisbet's achievement after the dedication service:
"In a building such as this which, thanks to T.W. Nisbet's energy, liberality and perseverance, Sarnia now possesses, athletic exercises, swimming, diving and all the various forms of physical training can be carried on pleasurably and profitably throughout the entire year.
|The Boys' Brigade Hall, or Armoury|
After the construction Nisbet assumed financial responsibility for the building's ongoing costs, which were funded in part by the sale of season tickets to Sarnians ($6.00 for a man and $3.00 for a woman). Nisbet's grand vision produced not only a building for the Boys' Brigade, but also an important social hub for the community that provided new and exciting athletic opportunities to all Sarnians.
|The gymnasium of the Boys' Brigade Hall|
Over time the building would become known to local residents as the Armoury. It took on much wider functions than just an area for the Boys' Brigade when it was selected to house Sarnia's militia. The building was even converted to a theatre before it was torn down in 1962 to make way for Sarnia's new City Hall.
Here are some of the Boys' Brigade Company Rules, extracted from "Company Card of 1st and 2nd Sarnia Companies, 1900 - 1901, The Boys' Brigade in Canada," pages 3-4:
1. Members must at all times set a good example to their comrades and other boys.
2. Members must take the greatest possible care of all accoutrements entrusted to them.
3. Members must come on parade in uniform, sharp to the minute, looking smart and clean.
4. Members must give prompt and cheerful obedience to all the orders of their officers and non-commissioned officers.
5. Members must always salute their officers when they meet or go up to address them when in uniform.
Download the Company Card of 1st and 2rd Sarnia Companies, 1900 - 1901 document in full (which has interesting descriptions of the company's activities and rules and contains many great pictures).